Sandy Brondello and her husband Olaf Lange’s first season working from opposing benches in the WNBA isn’t going as planned for a number of reasons.
While Brondello, the Phoenix Mercury head coach, and Lange, a first-year assistant with the Chicago Sky, had planned to be apart for the season working in their respective cities, the COVID-19 pandemic brought them to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida — where the league will kick off its season this month — instead.
Though that meant that the couple could have ended up living together inside the bubble with their two children, something the WNBA offered to accommodate, the pair opted to live separately.
“We decided we’re with two different teams and there’s a little bit of professional integrity there,” Brondello said, via the Associated Press’ Doug Feinberg. “Olaf’s a first-year assistant with the Sky, and we thought it would be better for him to be surrounded by his staff and for me to be surrounded by my staff."
Brondello is set to enter her seventh season leading the Mercury. Lange has spent time as an assistant and consultant for several teams in the league, including multiple stops with his wife, and has a lengthy resume coaching overseas — including a stint leading the German women’s national team. He also works as an assistant on Brondello’s staff with the Australian national team.
Their two kids have split inside the bubble, too — Jayda going with her mom and Brody with his dad. The two are living in a villa with other Sky assistants.
“It’s like a dorm in college. Four males here,” Lange said, via the Associated Press. “We have frequent gatherings at the kitchen table and we talk. He enjoys as a teenager now having this male energy around him.”
The WNBA season will kick off on Saturday at IMG Academy, which sits roughly 100 miles from where the NBA is resuming its season at Walt Disney World, and will end on Sept. 12 after a 22-game regular season.
Brondello and Lange will find themselves squaring off twice in less than a week next month, too. Though they’ll see each other plenty around the bubble, including at the occasional family dinner, the two aren’t too worried about their first head-to-head matchup.
“I’m sure the [media] will make a much bigger deal out of it than we will,” Brondello said, via the Associated Press. “It’s just another game on our schedule.”
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